Melissa Zexter’s photographs are unlike any you’ve ever seen. Marrying photography and embroidery, she hand-stitches illustrations over her intimate portraits of women and children. In each image, she heightens the drama of quiet moments of reflection with explosive patterns and bursts of color. With an interest in exploring representations of femininity, Zexter enters a beautiful and imaginative world all her own.



To this day, craft (e.g. embroidery) and art (e.g. photography) sometimes carry sexist distinctions, craft being associated with the home and the “female realm” and art being considered “masculine” and associated with the public sphere. For this reason, Zexter’s work is especially moving, its careful embroidery serving as a visual reclamation of the photographic medium. 



In some ways, the photographs become symbolic of the past and its representations of women, while the stitching often operates as a visual manifestation of the modern female’s reinterpretation of femininity. Zexler tells, “I always think of the photograph as something from the past and the thread as a reaction to the past and present. The thread makes the photograph more personal to me and allows me to meditate on the image.” 



Each image enters an unexpectedly imaginative realm, propelling the photographic into a more meaningful and subjective space. In one image, the mother figure is sewn and obscured into a magenta-saturated background, her firm hand the only thing revealed as it supports her infant’s tiny head. One piece focuses on a child’s seat atop a tree trunk, a scraped and carefully bandaged knee singled out by the artist’s sweeping embroidery. In another, a veiled subject’s bosom comes alive with rich and heavily textured floral stitching. Take a look. 




Thanks to iGNANT

Images via iGNANT

All images copyright Melissa Zexter

Tagged in: women in art, women, weddings, Photography, nurses, mothers, melissa zexter, marriage, feminism, femininity, embroidery, Crafty, Children, babies, art   

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